News Release

National Park Visitation Tops 325 Million in 2019

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Date: February 27, 2020

“The 419 parks in the national park system provide a vast array of opportunities for recreation and inspiration for visitors of all ages,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “With at least one located in every state, national parks offer nearby history, culture and adventure.”

Under President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt’s leadership, the National Park Service continues to expand recreational opportunities and accessibility for park visitors. On Aug. 30, the National Park Service announced a new electric bicycle (e-bike) policy for national parks. The policy supports Secretary’s Order 3376, signed by Secretary Bernhardt on Aug. 29, and directs the Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the Department. The policy also supports Secretary’s Order 3366 to increase recreational opportunities on public lands.

Additional highlights from the 2019 visitation report include:

  • Visitation in 2019 surpassed 2018 by more than 9 million recreation visits, a 2.9 percent increase.
  • Recreation visitor hours have remained above 1.4 billion over the past four years.
  • In the past five years there have been nearly two billion recreation visits to national parks.
  • Thirty-three parks set a new recreation visitation record in 2019.
  • Fourteen parks broke a record they set in 2018.
  • There were two longstanding records broken in 2019: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, with 432,818 recreation visits, broke a record they set in 1976 and Capulin Volcano National Monument broke a 1968 record with 81,617 recreation visits in 2019.
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area remained the most-visited site in the National Park System ahead of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • The third through seventh most-visited sites in 2019 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, the Lincoln Memorial, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway – retained their 2018 order.
  • Visitation to the Natchez Trace Parkway finished just ahead of visitation to Grand Canyon National Park for the eighth most-visited site.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore was number 10.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (12.5 million) and Grand Canyon National Park (5.97 million) continue to hold the first and second most-visited national parks in the United States.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park held on to third place and set a new visitation record at 4.67 million.
  • Zion National Park stayed in fourth place with 4.49 million visits in 2019.
  • Yosemite National Park recovered from a drop in 2018 visitation attributed to wildland fires and moved past Yellowstone National Park for fifth place.
  • The remaining spots in the top 15 are Yellowstone, Acadia National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park, and Gateway Arch National Park.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) allows the NPS to collect and retain revenue and requires that fee revenue be used to enhance the visitor experience. At least 80 percent of the money stays in the park where it is collected, and the other 20 percent is used to benefit parks that do not collect fees. Read more about your fee dollars at work.

Last year national park visitor spending contributed more than $40 billion to the U.S. economy. Learn more about the economic impact of visitor spending. The 2019 report on the economic benefits from visitor spending is expected later this spring. 

For an in-depth look at 2019 visitation statistics, including individual park figures, please visit the National Park Service Social Science website.

2019 by the numbers:

  • 327,516,619 recreation visits
  • 1,429,969,885 recreation visitor hours
  • 13,860,047 overnight stays (recreation + non-recreation)
  • Three parks had more than 10 million recreation visits – Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • 11 parks had more than five million recreation visits
  • 80 parks had more than one million recreation visits (21 percent of reporting parks)
  • 25 national parks had more than 1 million recreation visits (40 percent of National Parks)
  • 50 percent of total recreation visits occurred in 27 parks (7 percent of all parks in the National Park System)

Top Ten Most Visited National Park Service Sites  

  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area 15 million                                
  • Blue Ridge Parkway 14.9 million
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park 12.5 million
  • Gateway National Recreation Area 9.4 million  
  • Lincoln Memorial 7.8 million
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway 7.5 million
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area 7.5 million
  • Natchez Trace Parkway 6.3 million
  • Grand Canyon National Park 5.97 million
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore 5.6 million

Top Ten Most Visited National Parks

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park 12.5 million
  • Grand Canyon National Park 5.97 million
  • Rocky Mountain National Park 4.7 million
  • Zion National Park 4.5 million
  • Yosemite National Park 4.4 million
  • Yellowstone National Park 4 million
  • Acadia National Park 3.4 million
  • Grand Teton National Park 3.4 million
  • Olympic National Park 3.2 million
  • Glacier National Park 3 million

Last updated: February 27, 2020

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